Sunday, April 29, 2012

South Platte Park: April 2012

I dragged the kids to the Audubon Center at Chatfield State Park Saturday morning to check out their bird banding.  But they weren't having much luck catching any birds, so that turned out to be a bit of a dud.

Fortunately, a nice gentleman who was clearly a birder struck up a conservation with me about things he had seen so far this spring, including a nest with a couple of baby Great Horned Owls in South Platte Park a mere 15 minutes away.  So to South Platte Park we went, where the kids had much more fun walking along the river than they'd had not seeing birds at Chatfield.

Zak spotted a raccoon on the far shore, who was more wary of us than I'd expected.  When I worked for the Broncos and would leave games at Mile High Stadium hours after the fans had departed, there were always raccoons in the dumpsters who looked they'd beat you up if you made any move towards the half-eaten hot dogs and other fine fare they were gorging on.

I'm not sure exactly what he was doing to his sister, but he was pretty well busted.

I wasn't prepared to see this Northern Flicker pair as we were heading toward where the owl nest reportedly was, so I only managed one quick picture before they flew off.

When we got to the nest site it had apparently blown down in a storm, but there were still two owlets on the branch.  This was as exciting as they got, which wasn't too surprising given that they're nocturnal.

There was a parent nearby who wasn't too much livelier, though he did preen his feathers a bit.

A mallard drake floated idly on the river.

I came back at sunrise on Sunday to see if there was more activity from the owlets.  There was only one, and while he wasn't all that active he was at least more awake.

I later found out that the other was actually trying to fly, and had made it to another tree about 50 yards away.  Another birder I chatted with estimated they were about a month old, and said the parent would continue to feed them both as long as it was necessary.

"It was a scratch!"

I'm not sure if the dead trees in the area brought out lots of woodpeckers, or if the woodpeckers caused most of the dead trees.  But there seemed to be plenty of both.

I know they're pretty common, but I always enjoy seeing robins.  They've always been a big symbol of spring to me.

This little fellow was singing his heart out near the Carson Nature Center.  I believe he's a Hutton's Vireo.

It's great to be reminded that gems like South Platte Park exist so close to my house, and that I don't have to get hours away from the city to see interesting wildlife!


SPlattePk said...

Thanks for the great post on your finds here in South Platte Park! Great photos too! Wildlife in South Platte Park, while "in the city" are not very urban - meaning they still typically run away from people and generally act wild - a good thing! To help with some of your musings - woodpeckers are conspicuous most of the year here, though are not causing the demise of the trees (that's mostly due to changes in river flows as people use most of the water there now). Also, your Crooner Closeup is most likely a house-wren. A common songster that typically nest on and around the nature center. Come on back for a program with our naturalist staff some time. Glad you found us!

Skot - Park Supervisor

SteveHarbula said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing that info, Skot! You've got a great facility and I look forward to my next visit. :)